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12 days of Christmas in the Story of Ross and Demelza Poldark (Pt2- The later Years)


This blog follows on from part one of the twelve days of Christmas blog documenting the key days of Christmas/New Year in the Poldark Saga that form part of Ross and Demelza's love story. This previous one covers eight of the twelve from the early years and can be found here. In this blog the focus is on the Christmas periods of the later years in the last five books.

Ross and Demelza Poldark snuggle outside nampara at dawn
The first seven books do hone down on the Ross and Demelza's story at a time when despite their ardent love for each other, there were so many issues and dramas which brought with it high romance but also crisis and beautiful reconciliations. There was a pattern of one or all of these elements being brought to the fore at Christmas. However though it can be assumed that the books after the time jump are focused on the children, the reminders that Ross and Demelza were central to the story are apparent and the happenings at this special time of year were mainly told through their perspective rather than just the children's. There were points of celebration in their own love and life together and also points of crisis as parents through their children's woes and which they were affected by. 

The Stranger From The Sea- Book 8

December 1810/11- Away for Christmas 

With this book leading a new era in the Poldark saga, it is noticeable that Winston Graham did not emphasise Christmas as a standout period in the story of Ross and Demelza on this occasion only. Therefore this is not included in their significant days of Christmas count. It is likely that this is due to the fact that of the twelve books Ross and Demelza did on this occasion feature in it the least. The book actually starts with Ross abroad and Demelza is therefore home, not alone, but without him. Ross did not return until after Christmas 1810. Perhaps this only supports this idea that Christmas was only worthy of attention as a key event if Ross and Demelza were to be prominent and at the heart of it, together. And perhaps Graham did not have much interest in reserving the Christmas spotlight for any other characters in quite the same way. Instead with this book a big storyline was the love brewing between their daughter Clowance and the new character of  Stephen Carrington. The Stranger from the sea. Reference is made to him taking advantage of Demelza's hospitality by staying at Namapara and going to as many Christmas parties in the area as he could. But even then probably for the reasons mentioned no specific attention was given to these Christmas events. The book ends in summer 1811 meaning that Christmas 1811 was also not covered at all since the next books starts from 1812. 

The Miller's Dance- Book 9

December 1812- Christening of a new love and ongoing love- Baby Henry is here!

Location: Nampara 

Winston Graham ensured that Christmas 1812 was yet another celebration of Ross and Demelza's enduring love as not only was their fifth child (who for the story was therefore another fruit of their love), born in mid December Henry Vennor Poldark was christened on Christmas Eve. This then made his arrival like a Christmas gift and Ross and Demelza's love indirectly at the heart of the celebration. It was particularly a grand old celebration as Graham reported that 'The church and churchyard were crowded. Everyone, it seemed, in the district of Sawle and Grambler and Mellin and Marasanose had heard of the birth of a second son to the Poldarks and everyone wished to be there for the Christening. There was simply no room for all who wanted to get into the church....' 

Graham went on to tell that even after this 'It was altogether a noisy Christmas for the Poldarks.' 
While they were at church there was the convenient arrival of a grand piano that Ross had ordered earlier in the month. It clearly aided the lively celebrations as 'Demelza played a dozen pieces that evening..' Also it was put to good used the next day for Christmas day when they continued to have a full house of friends as  '...the Enyses came to dinner with their two little girls, and Sam and Rosina Carne: and on St Stephen's Day (aka Boxing day) the Trenegloses came over, and Paul and Daisy Kellow.' The joyousness of the period was highlighted as Graham narrated that 'It was a time for dancing again on tables...The piano, like a new and handsome toy, came in for much use, with ever more singing....' Again he told that 'Demelza played any number of old Cornish songs as well as all the favorite carols.' 

The only element of future gloom was in Jeremy's story line. We were told that '...through Christmas Jeremy was in the highest spirits.' Graham told that he flirted outrageously with Daisy, told ludicrous jokes, got drunk and according to Clowance's suspicions having encountered him sneaking in late one night smelling of cheap perfume, may have had a woman. However it seemed that Jeremy was in fact experiencing a time of emotional crisis. He was nursing a broken heart over Cuby Trevanion's rejection of him and so his high spirits were an outward disguise of this. This would be something which Demelza would eventually confront and console him over. 

The Loving Cup- Book 10

December 1814-  A New Year Treat with Jeremy

Location: Nampara 

Again this is another book which only really documented one Christmas even though it covered a two year period. Also with Graham stating that 'So Christmas came and with unwelcome speed was gone.' for the Ross and Demelza's story it was pretty uneventful with a lack of detail. Clowance and Jeremy did not make it to Nampara for Christmas and elsewhere there was only reference to the newly married Warleggans (Valentine and Selina) giving a party and also being entertained at Nampara. 

The treat that Graham provided for this season was actually earmarked for on New Year Eve when Jeremy returned from the army and was very warmly greeted by Ross as he ran to him from afar and 'They clasped each other, putting cheek to cheek.' When rushing to see his mother we're told that Demelza was with Caroline, and 'The women squeaked with delight, and Jeremy hugged them both...' Jeremy brought good news at the time announcing the then breaking news believed to be peace with America. So inspired by this and the approaching new year, 'They arranged a party for that evening, to celebrate the peace and to let in the New Year.' Typically Demelza played the piano and lead communal songs, while emerging singer extraordinaire Bella sang some of her songs. All the indoor staff also joined in, and even after the party did not break until 3am when the Enyses dragged themselves away, ' and jollity went on in the family until the .....'  dawn of 1st Jan 1815 was not far away.  

Twisted Sword- Book 11 

December 1815- Christmas without Jeremy.

Location: Nampara/The Enyses (Killewarren)

With Jeremy having died an honourable soldier's death six months before this Christmas, the intention of Ross, Demelza and Clowance had been for a more sombre one. Ross had thought that "It was twisting the sword in the wound to attempt to keep up Christmas in anyway whatever."  Wanting to look on 25th December as just another day of the month Clowance had told her mother "...Christmas cannot be a Christmas like last year or any other year we have ever known." Although Demelza considered that Clowance might be right, in keeping with her more positive and uplifting character she suggested that for the sake of the younger children such as Henry, Bella, Sophie and Meliora Enys and Cuby, that they could not ignore Christmas altogether. Proposing a compromise she suggested "No big celebration. But quiet celebration. After all it is to commemorate the birth of Christ."

Despite the muted intentions and that there was a feeling of grief over Jeremy's absence and sadness for Clowance's widowhood, as was now typical to the warmth and vibrancy of the Nampara estate, with the Enyses also present Graham wrote that it '...did not prevent the jollity from sneaking in.' 
There were scenes including Demelza once again playing the piano, Bella singing songs and moments of affection with her and then three year old Henry. The mood was a festive one as the family had helped to decorate Sawle church the day before. The Nampara library was also '....decorated with holly and Ivy and ferns and a few early primroses, as was the parlour.'  Typically the Christmas choir also visited, sang songs and joined them to eat mince tarts and ginger wine. However whilst Graham wrote that Christmas eve passed 'peacefully' he ensured that an uneventful Christmas would be the furthest from what happened and the loss of Jeremy would be somewhat compensated for as far as possible. So on Christmas day, after attending Church the Poldarks rode over to the Enyses's Killewarren for dinner. Despite the ' that clung round the heart..' on account of Jeremy they exchanged Christmas gifts, the Enys daughters sang a duet with Cuby, and Bella also sang a new song round the piano. They '...laughed a good deal and ate consumedly and drank good wine and generally made merry...' and on the way home Cuby who was pregnant with Jeremy's child went into labour!

So as with many of the Christmases before the Poldarks were gifted with the celebration of another Christmas bundle of Joy as Jeremy's baby girl 'Noelle Frances Poldark' was born on Boxing day. As narrator Graham announced, she was 'A Christmas baby, a Christ Child, all that was left of their soldier son.' In this he spoke from Ross and Demelza's point of view rather than Cuby's and hence this is one of his reminders that the story was always Ross and Demelza's even in these later set of books in the saga. Even more so this is highlighted with the significance he raised when he narrated 'So there was another child in the house, another Poldark...their first grandchild, Jeremy's daughter: another generation.' Again the last dialogue of the book had a hopeful and positive feel provided by Demelza. This was of embracing one's blessings as Demelza honouring Jeremy's wishes threw his loving cup down a wishing well and then as if to put her grief to the side and focus on these new blessings of theirs she said to Ross "Dearest Ross, let us go home now. There is a baby to see to."

Bella Poldark - Book 12 

December 1819- From Grief to Happiness 

Location: Trenwith (Geoffrey Charles House Party)

For Christmas 1818 Graham spoke of the Warleggans activities rather than Ross and Demelza's. George's new wife Harriett arranged a house party which the Poldarks had no involvement in but there was no momentous or key event at this party either. However for Christmas 1819 though no attention was given to Christmas day, the event of the season and which Graham chose to focus on was a party that Geoffrey Charles threw at Trenwith

It was at this Trenwith party that Ross presented as high spirited and flirtatious. Later at bed time Demelza who had mischievously pushed him to dance with George Warleggan's wife Harriet, teased him about how many women he had kissed and he enjoying the teasing and counted Geoffrey Charles's wife and her mother, Clowance, Harriet and Morwenna that he had kissed. Demelza had shared with her daughter that "..this frolic is as important as a ball of fluff.", and that she and Ross "...we still feel as much for each other, we have always much a constant pitch of- being deeply and truly involved. And desirous." Together with their teasy and good spirited bed time talk this was not only a reminder of how settled and still playful Ross and Demelza were in their love of each other but Graham also seemed to use this Christmas event to show a moving on of Ross from the sadness of Waterloo and the loss of Jeremy. He did so whilst tying in old themes of his enmity with George and the irony of him flirting with his wife.
The explanation for Ross's behaviour seemed to be in Graham's report that Ross had '...suddenly felt happy. For the first time since Jeremy's death....He had come to the dinner in a wayward eccentric mood, half-rebellious, half-pleasurable.' Flirting with another woman he also happened to find attractive was clearly stimulating and fun for him and Demelza taking this in good spirits also told Clowance that equally Ross would never greatly enjoy "..if I flirted outrageously with some handsome man, as has happened now and then in the past..." In that we are given another a reminder that even where they could both find others attractive, get a buzz from flirting with them, that with Demelza also likening her and Ross to ".....a veritable Darby and Joan.", there was no danger in. 

An Extra Christmas Gift (Christmas At Nampara 1820)

These together with the blog covering the early years are the significant 12 days of Christmas with Ross and Demelza Poldark. It should be evident how Graham elevated the significance of this period in his saga covering Ross and Demelza's story. He seemed to think this part of the year to be one that was special or which should hold much meaning in his story. It is therefore probably not coincidental that shortly before he died Winston Graham wrote an unpublished short story called 'Christmas at Nampara 1820'. This follows on from where the last book 'Bella Poldark' 
left off with a premise of it being about a big family celebration at Nampara for Christmas. Capturing the warmth that Nampara always held, it is a short story that has this feel about it as well as of tying up many unfinished story points. But even though Graham probably wrote more books than he had originally intended to do in the Poldark, it also seems as if right to the very end Graham kept true to his wish to write 'a love story with a happy ending.' This short 24 page story is held in archive but for public viewing at The Courtney Library, The Royal Cornwall Museum, River Street, Truro TR1 2SJ. For those desperate to see how the Poldarks were past the last book 'Bella Poldark' then it is worth a trip to this museum to view it and to take the opportunity to view the town while there.  

Not Happy You Are Happy Ross Pt8 (Elizabeth: A Love for Ross)

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